When did clowns get such a bad reputation? They used to be fun-loving jokesters — stars of TV, the circus and children’s birthday parties. Think Bozo, Ronald McDonald and Red Skelton.
Now, they’re better known for being creepy.
Some of the blame no doubt goes to Stephen King, whose 1986 novel “It” centers around a murderous, maniacal clown named Pennywise. It was made into a popular TV miniseries in 1990 and now comes the big screen version.
Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is an evil, magical thing that feeds on fear and comes up out of a well to terrorize children every 27 years. He meets his match, though, when he takes the little brother of Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher).
Bill is convinced his brother isn’t dead and spends the summer of 1988 searching for him in the small town of Derry with his loser friends — Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Stan (Wyatt Oleff), and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer). They are later joined by the new kid, Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the tomboy Bev (Sophia Lillis) and the outsider Mike (Chosen Jacobs).
Their tormentor – besides the killer clown – is town bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). Bev’s father (Stephen Bogaert) isn’t very nice, either.
The kids just want to have a normal summer but horrifying visions keep getting in the way. Images that adults can’t see. This leads to not one, but two, showdowns with Pennywise in an abandoned house.
“It” is a decent, if long, old-school horror movie. It relies more on sudden shocks and scares — and actual character development — than gore and torture. I wasn’t all that impressed with the horror aspect of the movie, but there were one or two shocks. I was mostly interested in the kids and their relationships. The young actors were all pretty engaging.
The movie runs more than 2 hours which is a bit much for this sort of thing. And it’s clearly set up for a sequel so we can watch how the kids as adults deal with Penny. I’m betting we won’t have to wait 27 years for it.